Megan Michalak
POSTCARDS TO THE PAST, SIGNPOSTS TO THE FUTURE, Megan Michalak, Paris, July 2011 (image 15 0f 16)

photo credit AnnaKarin Quinto
July 2011
Digital C Print
30" x 40"
POSTCARDS TO THE PAST, SIGNPOSTS TO THE FUTURE, is an ongoing photography project that began in Paris in 2011. This project facilitated imagined public conversations with Walter Benjamin’s “Angelus Novus,” also known as the “angel of history.” POSTCARDS TO THE PAST, SIGNPOSTS TO THE FUTURE examined the oral histories of living Parisians to inquire: how are histories embodied and performed in the lives of everyday citizens? As an archive, this project presents a portrait of the city as a series of perspectives on Paris’ past and future as envisioned by its citizens. For each photograph, an experimental documentary method was used, consisting of a series of interviews between participants with the artist. The subject of these meetings was to facilitate an imaginary conversation between the participant with past and future generations of Paris. This dialogue between the future and “ghosts” of French history created a portrait of each participant and his or her reflections on the present historical moment in France. At the conclusion of this process, on reviewing the interview transcriptions, participants created written postcards/ signposts that distilled the exchange and were photographed holding the postcards/ signposts outside their home. France was chosen as the location to begin this project, as it is the birthplace of the revolutionary paradigm, and it can be argued modernity itself. As 2011 saw the rebirth of popular movements for social justice and reform ranging from the Arab Spring, to the “Indignados,” to the Occupy Wall Street movement; this project attempts to examine these strategies of social reform in light of France’s revolutionary lineage, to speak with the and “ghosts” of history.
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